Hold Pepsi Accountable for Promise to Phase Out Carcinogenic Chemical

Target: Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Inc.

Goal: Provide a clear timeline and plan for removing cancer-causing chemical from Pepsi products

The dangerous chemical known as 4-methylimidazole can form in trace amounts when caramel coloring in cola is cooked. This chemical has been found to cause cancer in rats. Coke has made huge strides to eliminate the carcinogenic chemical from its cola products, but Pepsi lags significantly despite promises to change.

When California began requiring cancer warnings on products containing significant levels of 4-methylimidazole in 2012, Pepsi announced it would begin to phase the chemical out of their products nationwide. However, a recent study conducted by the Center for Environmental Health found that while the beverage is generally safer in California, colas sold outside the state still contain elevated levels of 4-methylimidazole. In the ten states looked at by the study, all Pepsi cola products were found to contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole, while only one in ten Coke products contained the chemical.

Pepsi has issued a statement saying its caramel coloring suppliers are changing their manufacturing process in order to phase 4-methylimidazole out. This process is complete in California, and the company claims it will be complete for the rest of the country by February 2014 and eventually on a global scale. However, Pepsi did not disclose any specific details about its plans and offered no timeline for the global initiative. Pepsi also failed to honor its initial promise to cut back on 4-methylimidazole.

So far, Pepsi has not made significant steps to cutting back on 4-methylimidazole, especially when compared to its main competitor Coke. Sign the petition below to tell Pepsi to fulfill its promises in a timely manner and provide a detailed plan for the change.


Dear Indra Nooyi,

While your main competitor Coke has taken significant steps to remove 4-methylimidazole from its cola products, your company still lags. The harmful chemical has been found to cause cancer in rats and should be eliminated immediately.

Pepsi cola products in California no longer contain the chemical, but the Center for Environmental Health has found in a recent study that many states in the rest of the country still sell Pepsi products laced with 4-methylimidazole. This is unacceptable.

A detailed timeline must be provided by the company with information for its plans to eliminate 4-methylimidazole from its products worldwide. Continued failures to make progress on these promises will not be tolerated. I urge you to take the necessary steps to remove 4-methylimidazole from Pepsi cola products in a quick and urgent manner.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Sheila Dillon GGma Sheila says:

    Pepsi is afraid the flavor will change so it will continue to hem and haw. Will Pepsi or won’t Pepsi change??????

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